Thursday, April 21, 2011

An Easter Paschal Candle

I have been wanting to make an Easter Paschal Candle. I was looking at the ones at Catholic Icing and knew that I should make one. The only problem that I had was making one without spending any money. I have been looking for cheap candles at the Dollar Store, grocery stores and other low end department stores. The cheapest candle I found was about $4.00 for a short stubby candle. I left the stores knowing that I had to find something cheaper or I wouldn't be making a Paschal candle. Today I stumbled upon some Easter Candles on a vintage clip art blog called The Graphic Fairy.
Photo Courtesy of The Graphic Fairy

They used votive candles like ones that I had on hand. The only problem that I had was the fact that they were typical Easter candles and had nothing to do with Christ. So I prompty googled some more until I found a printout that I could use. Here is the one from Homeschool Goodies. There is a link to template that I used.

If you want to learn more about the Paschal Candle, there is an excellent explanation on A Catechist's Journey.

Here are the candles that I made. I had all of the supplies on hand and made these for virtually nothing. I am really happy to have a Paschal candle that I can light ever night at dinner for the 50 days of the Easter season.

God Bless and have a blessed Triduum and Easter. Thank you for stopping by.

Simple Easter Craft

Today I found a simple and inexpensive Easter craft to dress up the kitchen for Easter. I found this on Modern Parents Messy Kids. You need some paint chips, waxed thread, needle a template and some time. This craft is simple enough for an eight year old to do. That said, my sweetheart decided to do this while waiting for supper to be finished.

Have a blessed Easter Triduum and Easter. God Bless and thank you for stopping by.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Writing Essays - My Feeble Attempt

As a home schooling mom, I often come to the point where I just don't remember how things are done. Luckily, others know how to explain things and write about them on the internet.

Next month, we are having another visit from our facilitator. She visits us two to three times a year to check on the childrens' progress in their studies. She also writes report cards for them. We are expected to hand in a writing assignment at each visit. This coming visit, the kids are expected to hand in essays.

Do you remember how to write an essay? Did you write essays in grade three and four? I don't remember anything. I had a few resources on hand, but they seemed far too complicated for younger kids. I did a little research and found a how-to on Five Paragraph Essays. It also linked to this graphic organizer.

My writing is a little rusty, but I thought I would try to write a little essay anyway. My five year old can't write yet, but he really wanted me to write an essay about him. The above mention article gave an example of an essay. It was an article based on three items placed in a paper bag. Each of these items were used to describe and the thesis topic, which was 'An Essay About Me.' I promted my little guy to put three items in the bag that best describe him. It was really cute watching him figure out what to put in the bag. Nonetheless, he found three items, put them in his bag and showed them to me. This is what I wrote...

An Essay All About Didi (that is his nickname)

Crumple, crumple! This is the sound that Didi's All About Me bag makes as I take a peek inside. Well, I couldn't have chosen three better things to describe Didi: a brio train, a piece of Lego and a toy moving truck. He whispered quietly into my ear exactly how each of these things describe him. Listen carefully.
First, Didi chose a toy train. Didi loves to play with his Brio tracks, building bridges and via ducts all over the rec room floor. He even revealed to me how much he loves to ride trains and to watch them in movies like the ones with Thomas the Tank Engine
Second, I pulled a piece of Lego out of Didi's bag. I think that I can safely claim that Lego is Didi's all-time favourite toy. Not a day goes by without some stupendous creation made by him: Star Wars ships, Titanic-like boats or something extra made for his little brother to destroy.
Lastly, Didi included a toy moving truck in his bag. At first, I thought he was using it to show how much he loved playing with dinky cars. If that is what you thought too, you are undoubtedly mistaken. he added a moving truck to represent the times he has moved from one place to another. He was born in Germany and had moved within Germany twice before moving to Canada four years ago. And since then, he has moved moved again just recently. Hopefully, the moving truck won't be a recurring object in years to come.
I hope that you got to learn a little about Didi, the rough and tumble, play hard, die-hard fan of trains and Lego, who hasn't forgotten where he has come from. I can't wait to see the next train layout or Lego thingamajig that Didi is going to make. If you are interested, I am sure that he would tell you many tales about his adventures moving from here to there. In the meantime, I will close his bag and ponder what a cool kid he is and what he may someday be.

God Bless and happy essay writing to you all. I would love to hear about your childrens' attempts at essay writing. Hopefully, I have time to publish the other kids' All About Me essays on here.

Easter Cards

I can't believe that yesterday was Palm Sunday. Lent has flown by unusually quickly this year. It is Holy Week and we are trying to incorporate this into our studies. I made a Stations of the Cross game for the bigger kids, a Stations of the Cross file folder game for my kindergartner, made a Stations prayer booklet and pulled out last year's Stations activity box to play. (Follow the links to find the tutorials and print-outs.)
In anticipation of Easter, we made Easter cards. I often look to Art Projects for Kids for inspiration and ideas. I saw a really neat idea for making Easter cards on the website and tweaked it a bit.
First of all, we used water color pencils from Michaels. Secondly, we used images that we found in A Catholic How-to-Draw and A Year With God, both resources from Catholic Heritage Curricula. I followed the rest of the directions from Art Projects for Kids. I think that the cards turned out really well. Here they are from youngest to oldest...
5 Year Old
8 Year Old
10 Year Old
My attempt and example for the kids.

This is more fun than I thought it would be. I was blown away by the effort the kids put into each and every detail. I was disappointed in the quality of the watercolor pencils. I wouldn't buy these again. Even though we are trying to live simply, cheap art supplies are not the place to cut back spending. The cheaper the art tools and supplies, the higher the level of frustration and the greater the risk that the children will hate to create. Art is a very important aspect of the Catholic faith. Just look in our churches, the Vatican and on prayer cards. It should inspire our children to strive towards holiness. Art is about patience and perseverance towards perfecting oneself. Have a blessed Holy Week.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Living Simply ~ A Post on Breastfeeding

Talking openly about breastfeeding is no longer a taboo topic, but it is still a topic of debate. Some argue that "breast is best" and others argue that "science has come so far and that formula is almost as good." You can guess which side I am on...

You're right! Breast is Best!
Breastfeeding has so many benefits, one of which is cost. It is free. Infanct formula is expensive. I am not saying this because I am a breastfeeding fanatic, but rather out of experience. My firstborn had a rough start. I was in a foreign country with no family or breastfeeding friends, could barely speak the language and put too much faith in my midwife. She was a busy lady. She gave my husband and I some bad advice and got us off to a rough start. I tried breastfeeding, I really did. I needed help, but no one was there. I couldn't just call up my mom or my grandmother. I wasn't breastfed and neither was my mother. A friend told me to call LLL (La Leche League), but I barely spoke German (I was living in Germany at the time).

I caved after my baby got really bad jaundice and became really lethargic. I wept all the way to the drugstore, which was conveniently located within walking distance and stood in the formula aisle debating. I wasn't debating should I or shouldn't I. No, I was really labels to the best of my ability and trying to make the second best decision I could make. Which of these formulas would be almost as good as my milk? I chose one, bought a few bottles and wept all the way home.

Needless to say, my baby didn't thrive right away. He had reactions to every formula we tried. I ended up buying the really expensive hypo-allergenic kind. He tolerated this fairly well, but little did I know how many times that he would get some kind of gastrointestinal infection. Could this all have been different? I still regret not having tried harder or longer.

While pregnant with my second, I sought out the care of a midwife who was going to be really supportive when it came to breastfeeding. I think I prepared myself more for the breastfeeding than for the birth or homecoming. I wasn't going to fail AGAIN. That is exactly how I felt, like a failure. The message "Breast is Best" haunted my very being. Wasn't breastfeeding something that God intented us mothers to do? Why would we lactacte if we weren't meant to breastfeed?

Needless to say, I breastfed baby number two for a year. She weaned herself at exactly one year. Breastfeeding began with a struggle. I guess it wasn't meant to come easy to me. I learnt a lot about patience and perserverance. I am not the type of person that gives up easily. Baby number three was breastfed, too. Again, I had a rough start, but knew this can be normal. It can typically take six to eight weeks for mother and baby to become a winning breastfeeding team. I read every book I could get my hands on with regards to breastfeeding.
This is a picutre of baby number three being breastfed. He thrived and was a happy baby. He too weaned himself at exactly one year.

Baby number four threw me for another loop. He was exclusively breastfed from day one. He was born in the comfort of our own home and was given the best start possible. We was a whopping 9lbs 13oz.
Within days he lost a lot of weight. Within a few weeks, he lost a lot more. This is a picture of us last Easter at seven weeks old. His lowest recorded weight was 8lbs 6oz.
We struggled a lot. We used a several feeding devices, supplemented, visited a lactation consultant etc. We cried, I cried a lot. This was not what I was expecting. I breastfed two babies successfully, but this was not easy. I was determined to keep breastfeeding. I had a lot of support. Friends listened, sympathized, gave advice and listened. I was amazed by the amount of compassion and support. One friend in Germany sent us an unexpected package which included a water bottle full of holy water from the Cologne Cathedral. A friend from Ontario sent me the book, "Breastfeeding and Catholic Motherhood" by Sheila M. Kippley. These two gifts gave me hope. Shortly after Easter of last year we found out that our baby is intollerant of all grains and that was causing his weightloss. This is him now...
On our quest to live simply and holy lives, we realize that breastfeeding is an important aspect of Catholic living. Did you know that Blessed Pope John Paul II said that nursing mothers are "truly heroic?" Did you know that there is information on breastfeeding and Catholic living? I didn't. I would like to share some links with you on breastfeeding. Some of these have helped me tremendously.

Breastfeeding and Natural Child Spacing
Dr. Jack Newman website

If you have anything you would like to add or share, I am here to listen. God Bless.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

We Love Books

Do you love books?

I have always loved books. I love where a book can take you and what it can teach you. I love wonderful story books, cook books, diy books, books about the faith, diaries of others, books that advise, books that make you cry and the ones that make you laugh. I especially love the "Good Book". My love of books has influenced the children. They love books, too.

The picture above is typical of what we call "book-look time." It is the special time before the lights go out. Sometimes I read, sometimes they read and other times we just look at the pictures.

Can you ever have enough books? Probably, the one and only book you need is the Bible. I could never have enough books. I am a sucker for buying books, just ask my husband. I don't buy just anything, though. I am picky and discerning. I try to buy only what we need and borrow the rest from the library. It is difficult sometimes, but I try.

Free Home School Resources

We are a very fortunate home school family. We live in a province where home school studies are funded. Each family receives funding for each child that is enrolled in a "home" school with a home based learning school. The amount you receive depends on the school you are enrolled in and the amount of studies you choose to align with the province' curriculum. If you align a subject, you must meet the province' requirements for that subject for that particular grade level. They have outcomes that you are required to meet.

Although we receive funding, I try to use it for more expensive items like printer ink, art supplies and the more expensive books. I like to find a variety of free resources online to supplement the books I have purchased. There are a number of great websites with complete unit studies, lap book printables, copywork and projects. One such site that I like in particular is
That Resource

It has tons of printables, lessons plans and great ideas on how to enrich your home school. Two great resources that have been recently shared are one for Lent and one for Easter.

Lenten Study on the Via Dolorosa
Easter Study on the Via Guade!

I will share free finds as I come across them. You can't get any cheaper than that. God Bless and thanks for stopping by.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Simple Renovation

The kitchen in our home is tiny humble. There aren't very many cupboards to say the least. I want to live simple, but I have to be resonable, too. I haven't much room for anything in my cupboards, so we needed to get inventive. I searched the internet for ideas on open shelving and storage. The truth of the matter is that I have a lot of kitchen stuff. I sold tupperware when my second child was the baby and she is eight now. I did this to help pay the bills. Most of my tupperware was free (not really, I had to work for it) and some of it I won for selling really well. I wasn't the best salesperson, though. I couldn't sell people stuff they didn't really need. That is a whole other story.

Back to my kitchen which looked like this when we bought it...
These are the after pictures without the table. (I had to move the table for the last picture) The bench is made of two upper cabinets, a 2x4 frame and three 5/8" x 6" boards on top of the cabinets. I made a seat cover out of an old bedspread. The kids love sitting on the bench and I love the storage.
Did I mention that my dear husband is a journeyman painter and that he worked for a while in construction? It sure comes in handy when I need something fixed around the house. A fresh coat of paint, a shelf here and there and a house becomes a home.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Warm Kasha Salad

We have a new favourite ingredient, kasha. A gluten free and grain free super food in my humble opinion. Kasha is another word for buckwheat. It is actually a fruit, not a grain. It has been proven to lower cholesterol and blood glucose levels. It is very versatile and tasty. But these are not the only reasons why we eat it.

We eat kasha because we needed ...
- something different to eat
- something than can be used instead of pasta
- something that can be added to soup (I miss barley)
- the kids don't like quinoa as much as I do

The following recipe was the first meal I had ever made with Kasha. It got us hooked on kasha immediately. We were hungry after a busy morning of home schooling and chasing the baby. I needed something quick that was going to fill everyone up and taste great. If it doesn't taste any good, then it won't do a very good job of filling anyone up.

Warm Kasha Salad
1 cup Wolff's Kasha (I have never used any other brand)
1 egg
2 cups of gluten free vegetable broth
2 cups of diced vegetables (carrots, onions, peppers, etc)
salt, pepper and favourite seasonings
handful of greens (I used baby spinach)
salad dressing

To prepare the kasha you mix 1 cup of kasha with one egg. Coat the kasha with the egg and fry in a non-stick fring pan until the kasha is dry. This is recommened on the box, so I do this. I have never made it another way, so I don't know if it is necessary. The kasha turns out great when you do this step.

Boil 2 cups of vegetable broth, or any broth that you may have. I like to use vegetable broth during Lent. I prefer to use the vegetable broth from Campbell's. I make all of my meals from scratch, so I cheat and used packaged broth. Now add the egg coated kasha to the boiling broth and simmer for 7 minutes. The kasha should be tender and not dried out. Stir it with a spoon to fluff it up. I always taste it to see if it is done. You may need to cook it longer, we live at a pretty high altitude.

While the kasha is cooking, I fry up some veggies in a little oil. You can use more or less than the 2 cups I suggested. You can stir fry any that you like or have on hand. My kiddos love carrots, peppers, onions, and mushrooms if they are the canned ones. Don't ask, they are not my preference, but my five year old won't eat the fresh ones, just the canned kind. You could fry up some chicken, beef or pork to add if you like. I made ours vegetarian. Season to taste with salt, pepper and your favourite seasonings.

When the veggies are tender and the kasha is cooked, combine and stir well. Place a serving over a bed of greens and drizzle with your favourite salad dressing. We use a home made poppy seed dressing. I can't seem to find the link to the recipe. If i find it, I will post it. This is great served with fish as a humble Friday meal during Lent. Enjoy.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Cloth Diapering

For our family, living simple = saving money. That is why we cloth diaper. Cloth diapers aren't what they were 30 years ago. I love that there are so many choices in modern clothdiapers. There are so many websites about the how-to's, FAQ's, the different types of diapers as well as tutorials on how to make your own.

My favourite cloth diapers for everyday use are Mother-Ease one size. They are very cost effective and fit from newborn to the end of the end of the cloth diapering age. Here in Canada, I paid $10.95 for new and about $8 for used diapers. The used diapers even had an extra snap-in insert. I have fleece liners that I lay on top of the diaper to wick away the moisture. This keeps the baby's bottom fairly dry.

I also have half a dozen different diapers that are thicker and more absorbant and great for night time diapering. I bought these used and on sale for $11 to $20 per diaper. The most absorbant of the lot are the Dream-Eze. They don't make them anymore, but you can buy them used. These make great night-time diapers.
Both of these diapers require covers. I love the Mother-Ease Air-Flow diaper covers. They have adjustable snaps and elastic at the legs and waist. I have a few that have survived cloth diapering three kids. That is really good bang for the buck.
When cloth diapering, you have to look at your situation and buy only the diapers that you need. Most Cloth Diapering stores have trial packages. You can try out different types of diapers and find out what works best for your child. Read reviews and compare prices. I was surprised that the same diaper can cost quite different prices. It is worth it to compare prices. Cloth diapering can seem quite expensive, since you are buying your complete stash prior to baby's arrival. It doesn't have to be. A general rule of thumb is 24 diapers in the baby's current size. You can use 18 if you wash a little more often. I have tried all-in-one's that were quite expensive and were not as good as the Mother Ease. Mother-Ease have been around for about 20 years and most of the all-in-ones for just a handfull. Living simple does not have to be and should not be expensive. Mother Ease are a no frill, cloth diaper that require a cover. They wash up really easily, dry quickly and fit from beginning to the end of diapering age. They have snaps, which are great once babies love to rip off their diaper as some point and snaps are harder to open than velcro.

All diapers need to be washed. We have some allergy issues, so we have to be careful choosing detergent. The best, but not cheapest detergent is Rockin' Green unscented. They get the diapers really, really clean and the diapers don't smell when the baby pees in them. Some detergents can leave a build-up that leave the diaper smelling like ammonia when they are wet with pee. Most stains come out in one washing and that is in itself absolutely amazing. Although Rockin'Green isn't cheap, I have to rinse the diapers less to get out the detergent which equals less water usage. You only need a tiny amount per load to get everything clean. That makes is worthwhile. The ingredients are also simple and not harmful for the environment.

"Sell your belongings and give alms. Provide money bags for yourselves that do not wear out, an inexhaustible treasure in heaven that no thief can reach nor moth destroy." ~ Luke 12:33

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Our Favourite Sponsorship Program

Do you sponsor a child? If you do, how did you choose which sponsorship organization?

We sponsor. Sponsoring a child was a thing we started doing out of thankfulness to God. We started sponsoring a child in Bolivia our first Christmas here in Canada. It was an unbelievable feeling to know that one can truly help with so little. We had always felt the pinch. Money was always an issue. There never seemed to be enough. We lived paycheck to paycheck. Nothing has really changed. Life is still that way for the most part. The only difference is that we make someone else who has even less a priority. Do we need the latest dvd, toy, etc.? I used to think that we couln't afford to sponsor a child becase we already had so little compared to others in our community. I was wrong. Anyone of our financial status can sponsor. Even though things are tight, they are never that tight. If we can pay $31 for dog insrance, then we can sponsor another child for $33. Do we really need dog insurance? Afterall, it is just a dog, right? Isn't a human life more important than that of an animal? We think so, sorry Daphne. So now we sponsor two children. You can, too! I can tell you where.

We sponsor through a Catholic sponship program called Chalice. It is located in Nova Scotia, Canada. It was important to us that we sponsor through a Catholic program. None of the money we send goes to unethical family planning methods as some other popular programs out there. I love the fact that the money not only goes to the child, but to the community. Didn't someone say that 'it takes a village to raise a child?' They also have a great gift catalogue that you can purchase chicken, goats, mattresses and other necessities from. The items are purchase in the village where the items are needed. This boosts the local economy and helps families become self-sufficient, more comfortable and are most importantly given dignity. I hope you will go their siteand see if you can sponsor a child.
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